For most of her life, Veronica has been an observer and recipient of the impacts of racial injustice. Born in Alabama at the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, she could identify the words “colored” and “whites only” before she could spell her name. Her parents migrated from Anniston, Alabama, to Chicago with Veronica and her six siblings shortly before Veronica’s 8th birthday—leaving behind red dirt roads, fruit trees, family and friends, and Monsanto’s poisoned environment.
They landed in the Altgeld Gardens public housing community, surrounded by steel mills, docks and landfills, known as the “toxic doughnut”. Her childhood innocence was further tested as she learned the words “cancer,” “asthma,” “miscarriage,” and “birth defects,”all wreaking havoc on her community. Community activists—block leaders, social workers and teachers—became her role models. She has since done racial, gender and social justice and transformation work all her adult life, around the U.S. and internationally.
Some of Veronica’s journey:
- Co-founded EcoWomanist Institute to create a new paradigm for women of African descent and affirm their roles in healing impacts of the legacy of systemic racism.
- Current seventh term as EJ commissioner, Illinois Environmental Justice Commission and adjunct professor at Garrett-Evangelical and McCormick theological seminaries.
- 12 years in the Caribbean and South/southern Africa with Common Global Ministries developing programs for underserved communities with a gender/racial-equity focus.
- 13 years Illinois statewide outreach director for Faith in Place, developing/implementing programs addressing environmental injustice/environmental racism.
- B.A. in religion/women’s studies (Vermont College/Norwich University), M.A. in gender/development studies (University of the West Indies).